YEREVAN (Tert.am) — The Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia are celebrating their 24th anniversary today.

The national army came into being in a very difficult period that saw the agony of the USSR. In the complicated geopolitical context, people in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) stood up for self-determination, a campaign that later developed into a large-scale war, claiming many young lives. It took over four years to build the national army, which received its baptism by fire in different rounds of the Nagorno-Karabakh liberation battle, standing up for the defense and security of the people in Armenia and Artsakh.

The process involved both active and patriotic officers who had received their military education in the Soviet times and a new generation volunteers who built the backbone of the Armenian army.

As early as in 1994, army building, sustainable development, combat efficiency raising and training of personnel became regular processes, leading up to the creation of the Ministry of Defense and five army corpses.

Today, many veterans of the liberation struggle affirm with a high sense of pride that Armenia now has the kind of Army which was unimaginable for many decades before.

“The Armenian Army today is the most efficient and organized army in the region and one of our nation’s greatest achievements,” Spartak Matevosyan, who served as a regiment commander during the war, told Tert.am.

The veteran, who joined a special purpose regiment to fight in the hottest spots, remembered that after the call by then Minister of Defense Vazgen Sargsyan (for recruiting 10-15 young men from each region), even more volunteers joined their ranks to head to the frontline.

“The spirit of those days and the limitless devotion to the fatherland exists also today when it comes to the point. I often visit the border zones, and today were are visiting the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Institute [to meet with] fellows who shine with the same brightness and patriotism and are even more literate than we were.”

Speaking to Tert.am, Igor Sargsyan, who participated in the historic battle to liberate Shushi as a member of a students’ detachment, agreed that the Armenian army is the most powerful in the region at present.

“These are not mere words of laudation; that’s the truth. The border incidents in the past 1.5 years demonstrate that our soldiers stand ready [for our defense]. They are firm in both spirit and discipline. Our soldier today is fully equal with his task,” he noted.

Sargsyan remembered that the land loser complex and the psychic state of a migrant – which many champions of freedom initially experienced – disappeared very soon, turning into a feeling of pride.

“Those people knew they had lost lands, but the liberation of Shushi corrected the backbone of our people, giving a higher confidence to us, the volunteers, in our ability to liberate our fatherland. You would have seen that enthusiasm if you had visited Shushi the day it was liberated,” the veteran remembered.

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